Firm faces criticisms over new domain name practice

A company that sells internet domain names is facing criticisms for holding some in reserve as a consumer-protection measure, a move that also prevents interested parties from shopping around for better prices, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said after weeks of testing, Network Solutions began this week to grab names that people search for on its web site but don't immediately register.

The name is locked up for about four days, during which the person who made the search can buy it directly from the company for $35 a year, a few times more than what many of its rivals charge, the report said.

After that, the name returns to the pool and can be registered by anyone through any registration company.

The Associated Press report quoted spokeswoman Susan Wade as saying that Network Solutions was trying to combat domain name front running, the use of insider information to snatch desired domain names before an individual or business can register them.

But what it's doing shares similarities with the practice the company says it is trying to prevent, which the internet's oversight agency for domain names already is investigating.

One blogger termed Network Solutions' action 'deplorable,' the report said.

Wade said the company was making adjustments in response to feedback but considered its measure a benefit for customers, by preventing domain name speculators and others with questionable intentions from grabbing the name first, the report said.